A qualitative exploration of motivations for fasting and the impact of Ramadan on eating behaviors and body image among young adult Muslim women in the United Kingdom

Farheen Hasan, Yael Latzer, Phillippa C. Diedrichs, Helena Lewis-Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Research exploring the impact of fasting in Ramadan on eating behaviors has focused on Muslim-majority countries and has neglected to examine impacts beyond the month when “normal” eating patterns resume. This study aimed to explore the experiences of United Kingdom-residing young adult Muslim women who were fasting in Ramadan to understand its impact on their body image and eating behaviors both during and 1-month following Ramadan. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 14 Muslim women aged between 18 and 35 (Mage = 27.3) at two distinct time-points: during the last week of Ramadan and 1-2 months later. The interviews explored questions related to motivations for fasting, experience of fasting in Ramadan, and eating behaviors and thoughts related to body image and appearance. Thematic Analysis revealed three themes: (1) family and community expectations to fast (2) exertion of control of on eating behaviors and (3) preoccupation with weight and appearance. The results suggest that family and community play a strong role in motivating women to fast during Ramadan, alongside the need to feel a sense of belonging to their community. This can conflict with the pressure and desire to assimilate with Western culture and associated appearance ideals, thus putting women at greater risk of disordered eating and body image concerns. These findings suggest important implications for increased support in the Muslim community, and the need for further research to explore this topic across longer time-points and in different cultural groups.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101545
JournalEating Behaviors
Volume42
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021

Keywords

  • Body image
  • Disordered eating
  • Eating behaviors
  • Fasting
  • Islam
  • Ramadan
  • Religiosity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology

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